Thursday, February 23, 2012

Al Dunning-Steps to the spin

Pictures: Top 2- Jewel and Casandra spinning at Prince George
                 Bottom 2-Jewel and I spinning at PG (same weekend)

What do you notice between the quality of the 2 spins (between Casandra and myself-hint-think head set...) 
NOTE-I am actually pretty pleased when I look at my hands in these pictures-they are "in the box" and relatively even :)

I have discovered a new favorite website. It is "TeamAD international", the AD standing for legendary horse trainer, Al Dunning. The site has training videos, a blog, and a forum. The following is a blog post, talking about cadence in the spin. I have been focusing on the spin since my tune up with Casandra last week, when it became apparent that I was doing it all wrong-hands all over the place, not setting her up to go into the spin, not cueing correctly, etc. I have got it "right" (I think...) a few times now, and see a big difference in the quality of Jewel's spins as a result. I am so consistently amazed at the patience that she displays with me as I fumble around on top of her trying to figure things out!! :)

Here is Al's post:
Steps to a Spin
Have you watched a finished reining horse spin with his front legs crossing then uncrossing with a fast step? To watch a horse do this correctly is a beautiful thing.  Getting your horse to cross over properly is an important part of obtaining a flawless turnaround, and something many riders have difficulty with.  There can be several reasons why your horse may not be crossing over properly.  These can include:
-Rider pulling too much on the reins
-Rider not being balanced
-Rider not using legs properly
-Horse not moving his feet or turning his shoulder properly
-The start of the turn may be too forward or too far back
-Lack of rhythm
-Lack of collection

A term I like to use a lot is that horses are “bilateral”. This means that sometimes the front turns one direction and the rear-end goes in the opposite.  It would be like a board held in the center.  When turning one end to the right, the opposite end goes left.  When horses do this I call it “energy escaping from the off side”.  The horse is turning left and his ride side is bowing out.  This creates a shorter outside front leg movement/stride which results in the horse not crossing over.  Instead, the result is usually a banging of the legs or crossing under the inside leg.
The fix is to add forward motion and to encourage the outside ribs of the horse to not bow out.  Keeping the horse straighter also helps.  Lightening the sides of the horse and the mouth will assist in controlling the straightness while increasing a slight forward motion.
I trot hundreds of small circles to develop the “forward and round” shoulder movement.  I want the inside front leg to pick up and move back, out of the way so the crossover step is easier.  I never want my horse to fall back and step his outside hind leg away from the turn.  This action causes an unstable step and changes the dynamics of the stride.  A horse must stand his shoulder up, turn his front, maintain an inside pivot foot, and have cadence.
 If you study this, you can understand why trotting collected circles is so important.  Proper body alignment will create the step you want.  Speed is easy to add when form is correct.  Now is the time to “step up”!


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